On 11 January 2003 some 50 women and men of various ages gathered in the yard near the old city mosque in Lod (Lydda) to remember the Nakba. Eitan Bronstein of Zochrot welcomed the participants.

Dr. Mahmud Muhareb, a history lecturer at Beersheva University described the political and historical background of the 1948 war. He also described the general pattern of action taken by the Zionist forces as they expelled the Palestinian population. He also explained the way this policy of depopulation was applied in the city of Lod. The Zionist army surrounded the city leaving one path – in the direction of Ramallah – open for the local inhabitants to escape. The army then went into the houses and forced the people out. Able-bodied men were sent to labor camps. The others were directed to the road to Ramallah, while soldiers shot over their heads to scare them away.

Mr. Faik Abu Mana’, who was 20 years old at the time of the Nakba, shared his memories. During the occupation one of the soldiers brought a baby girl to his family. The soldier told them that the baby's mother had been raped and disappeared. His family found the mother, however, and returned the baby to her. He also remembered an incident in which a Palestinian man threw a grenade at a group of Zionist soldiers. Some were killed. A soldier, whose brother or friend was killed, ran to a mosque in the city where 70-80 people had gathered for shelter. He shot and killed all of them. Mr. Abu Mana’ and some men were told to take the bodies out for burial. When it became clear that the task was taking too long, they were told to burn the bodies.

Mr. ‘Aref Muhareb, a member of the Lod city council, described the current discrimination in housing policy in the city and the struggle against house demolitions taking place in these days.

We also walked to the ruins of the olive-press. Norma, a member of Zochrot spoke about the relevance of commemorating the Nakba and its relationship with the current oppression of the Palestinians. A sign was posted on one of the walls: "

ANNOUNCEMENT: First al-Awda International Convention, Toronto, Canada, 20-22 June 2003

Under the title, “The Palestine Right to Return Movement: Principles, Strategies and Programs, Al-Awda/The Palestine Right To Return Coalition will hold its first convention in Toronto, Canada. The program under preparation includes sessions on strategy and programs to develop Al-Awda; panels and hand-on workshops on issues of activist concern (media, political action, organization, outreach, coalition building, etc.; and, keynote speakers from Palestine and the exile.

Al-Awda calls for participants and donations. For more information contact al-Awda via, http://al-awda.org

This olive oil-press was destroyed during the expulsion of the Palestinians from Lod in 1948".

We continued our tour in Lod to visit a family whose house was demolished a few days prior to our visit. In a tent near the demolished house we heard from Mr. ‘Aref Muhareb and from the family members about their struggle to protect the new house currently under construction from being destroyed again.

Josef Mekyton is a member of Zochrot, an Israeli organization established to raise awareness about the Palestinian Nakba among the Israeli public, especially the Jewish community. For more information see the Zochrot website: www.gush-shalom.org/nakba.
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BADIL Expert Forum on the Palestinian Refugee Question (2003 – 2004)

“The Role of International Law in Peacemaking and Crafting Durable Solutions for Palestinian Refugees”

Hosted by the University of Ghent
Ghent, 22 – 23 May 2003

The Ghent Seminar is the first in a series of seminars to be held in the framework of BADIL’s Expert Forum on the Palestinian Refugee Question. This Expert Forum aims to convene legal experts, academic researchers, practitioners of refugee law, politicians, human rights activists and media workers, in order to examine obstacles to and strategies for rights-based and durable solutions for Palestinian refugees.

The Ghent Seminar will re-visit a decade of failed efforts at Middle East peacemaking and the role, or non-role, of international law in crafting durable solutions for Palestinian refugees. It will examine questions, such as: “What are Palestinian refugee rights under international law?” “What has been the relation between the political Oslo process and international law?” “How can we strengthen the role of international law in future efforts for a solution of the Palestinian refugee issue and durable peace?”

The Ghent Seminar is hosted by the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, University of Ghent and sponsored by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (PD IV), Stichting Vluchteling/Netherlands, ICCO/Netherlands, Oxfam Solidarity/Belgium, the Flemish Palestine Solidarity Committee and the APRODEV NGO Network.

Additional seminars/BADIL Expert Forum are scheduled as following:

• Seminar-2: Geneva (October/November 2003):
Topic: Restitution (law, principles, mechanisms; comparative experience and the Palestinian case);
• Seminar-3: Cairo (spring 2004):
Topic: International and Regional Mechanisms for Palestinian Refugee Protection (with focus on protection mechanism in the Arab world/Arab host countries)
• Seminar-4: Britain (summer 2004):
Implementation of return, real property restitution and compensation for Palestinian Refugees (stocktaking of resources/mechanisms available vs. technical and political obstacles)
• Closing Conference: Geneva (autumn 2004); topics to be determined.
(For additional information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)